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Wednesday, 01 May 2019


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Yardwork is "exercising", no?

Clearly, dietary tinkering has been an enjoyable hobby of yours for a long time. If it gives you joy and if you feel it keeps you in better health more power to you. (But you do seem to report illness with some frequency, don’t you?)

Personally, my vote is for exercise. Regular, vigorous or moderate, exercise is an absolutely essential element for health maintenance. You don’t have to be training for a triathlon or spend thousands on gym memberships or equipment. Unless you’re actively addressing an exercise regimen discussing just a diet is somewhat unbalanced. That is, there ain’t no real zoom lens through your mouth. Ya gotta use dem feet!

[My dietary tinkering has been a six-year project, essentially a series of experiments on myself. I'd call it "demystification" rather than "tinkering," though. The project was to sort out all the competing claims and arrive at some sense of personal clarity. After a great deal of work, that has happened now. I've been convinced for a year or two that WFPB is the healthiest way for human beings to eat. Our omnivorous proclivities are just survival adaptations; as I often say, we're so adept at surviving under adverse conditions that we could potentially even survive on a diet of McDonalds food. :-)

Since then, I've largely been concerned with a.) learning more about WFPB (there are many different aspects) and b.) understanding all the various approaches *within* WFPB (because of course there are many). This has become more akin to a passion than a hobby. But it's all very energizing, positive, and fun. --Mike]

What I am noticing about these focused diets such as the WFPB, KETO and Paleo is that eliminating certain foods such as carbs or meat seems to work best. But a combination 'all inclusive' diet causes issues. I am on the Fast Track Diet that is similar to KETO, but focuses on cutting highly ferment-able foods that cause issues with digestion. I lost weight too and feel much better as a whole.

Great that you feel happier and healthier Mike. But this only spans a short period with one test person. Haven’t eaten any meat? What about those 19 pounds of Mike Johnston then?

From what I've read, plant iron (non-heme) is not as easily absorbed as animal (heme) iron. Also, the amount of iron in plant food is lower than in meat. To complicate things, drinking tea or coffee after a plant based meal will further inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron.

Iron supplements can be taken but have their own drawbacks, one being constipation.

My own effort at a WFPB diet ended when a blood test revealed way too low iron levels. But being a coffee drinker didn't help and I was not prepared to quit the java habit.

Monitor your iron levels (blood tests) if you continue with WFPB.

[I'm no expert. This is from the site that's my go-to for untangling conflicting scientific evidence in the literature:


You should do whatever you feel you need to, but don't forget that wherever there's an industry that is advocating for the consumption of its products, there are usually biases. And the myth that you're in some kind of peril if you don't get your protein and iron from steaks is one of the livestock industry's oldest and most entrenched go-tos. --Mike]

According to a new study from the National Institutes of Health Opens a New Window. , a diet that reduces carbohydrates in favor of fat – including the saturated fat in meat and butter – improves nearly every health measurement, ... The medical establishment got it wrong, ...The belief system didn't pan out. https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/why-experts-now-think-you-should-eat-more-fat-20141020

My Immunologist (infection problem) has me on a high protein/fat low-carb diet, and I'm losing weight—health is better all around. No colds and no flu this year. All of my Doctors are happy—what's not to like.

BTW my breakfast this morning consisted of fried Spam, peanut-butter on toast and Matcha tea (without sugar).

[High fat, low carb diets come and go. One will be popular for a while, then it will fade, then another with come into vogue, then it will fade, and so on. Right now they're called "keto" diets, and their purpose is to make it possible for people to happily(?) eat their friend spam and not feel guilty. Fine by me. I'm only telling you what I do, not what you should do. I'm not in charge of you. The reason behind all of the low-carb diets is that people want to eat things like steak and eggs, and they need handy rationalizations for their behavior. That need will never go away. --Mike]

I've been on a similar diet for 6 weeks and estimate my compliance at 85%. I occasionally eat a piece of salmon, but otherwise whole time plant based. My main downfall is eating too many nuts when I feel like a snack. Very calorie dense. I do exercise moderately 3-4 times week because of my medical issues. I'm down 10 pounds. I think it's going well so far.

the low carb, high fat '' diet'' is becoming extremely important for type 2 diabetics like me. Every day LCHF is proving very beneficial.

Mike said: Right now they're called "keto" diets, and their purpose is to make it possible for people to happily(?) eat their friend spam and not feel guilty.

The NIH doesn't call them "keto" diets, and neither does my MD. They call it a healthy diet.

I mainly eat fish, chicken, pork, cheese, nuts and dairy for protein and fat. Egg plant, squash, peas, onions, carrots and potatoes for carbs. I eat berries for anti-oxidants.

Some food is baked, some is grilled and some fried.

From my POV it's a traditional well-balanced diet, like my parents and grandparents ate—not some faddish diet as you characterize it.

I am left wondering how much of the improvement is from the elimination of sugar.

A few years ago I lost 15-20 pounds fairly easily on a low/no carb higher fat/protein diet but then fell off the wagon on a long group bicycle tour where the others stopped at every bakery we passed. I eventually gave in and joined in the carbo loading and haven't been motivated to stop enjoying more carbs than I should since.

I felt much better with my weight down, as do Mike and others here. Might it be that the key is getting weight down and keeping it there in whatever reasonable way works for you? I'm a bit wary of extremes, so while I think WFPB largely makes sense I also don't see a problem with combining a bit of lean meat in that diet along with a few wholesome carbs.

What I think most of the current diets agree on is avoidance of processed food, especially those with added sugar. I found the easiest transition to better eating to be first cutting out the obvious crap, sugary drinks, chips, fries, processed food snacks and the like, basically whatever is advertised heavily to get us to eat more of it, then moving on from there to restructure meals in a healthier direction.

I don't think a steak now and then is going to kill you, or at least that much sooner than other things might, but it doesn't have to be a two pound t-bone dripping with fat accompanied by a pile of fries followed by a big slice of cheesecake. All things in moderation still works pretty well, in food as in much of the rest of life. We all know an unhealthy meal when we see it. The key is not eating it.

TON: The Online Naturopath.

I'm very happy that you have been able to stay strict enough to actually measure the impact on yourself. In the end, that is the only study that matters. I read around this area but have never been able to really get myself to be strict - about anything really! In this WFPB case, probably because I haven't HAD to.

But I, like you, truly believe that this is the healthiest way to eat. I don't think WFPB is a diet or a fad or a system. It is simply a lifestyle choice. I am partial to the wiggle room of Forks Over Knives where they didn't necessarily call for the elimination of animal protein, but a serious re-proportioning. And then explaining the benefits of "wild" animal protein vs. more industrialized methods.

Regarding the theory of Glen Merzer regarding the need for 100%. My opinion on this may be a rationalization, but here goes. Extreme circumstances require extreme solutions. An alcoholic can not consume in moderation. We know that. If a person gets to the point where my father is with Type 2 diabetes, and wants to try and control it with diet, he will need to be 100% compliant. I consider myself one of these 75% people. I would hope that being aware and eating well, incredibly well relative to the masses, will help me to avoid some of those extreme circumstances. But I feel as though I am saving some ammunition should I need it - the remaining 25% adherence.

My 71 year old father is currently at an inflection point with Type 2 diabetes. This is a disease that many believe can be controlled or eliminated with a strict WFPB diet. He has been much better than most for about ten years, but not good enough. He is currently going all-in on proper nutrition to see how his body will react. We will see.

Regarding the comment about exercise. I do believe that exercise is important. It has many benefits across your physical, mental and emotional self. But I do believe that your diet is even more important. and like another commenter said, you are getting exercise - gardening, walking, etc. It's mostly diet.

I look forward to your next update. Good luck!

About 25 years ago my then girlfriend, now wife, called me jelly belly. I had gained about 30lbs thru poor diet and no exercise. I changed my diet, eating healthier, and exercising 5 days a week. Lost over 30 lbs, am now below my high school weight, and have less overall health issues. Fruits, veggies, yogurt, fish, and chicken - watch the carbs and fats. No chips, French fries, etc. Whatever works for you - congrats, keep going, and remember this is a long term commitment

I think this post caused more controversy than your Bernie one. I lasted for a good while on something like your diet. The hardest thing was my wife was less interested, so we cooked a lot of separate meals. She responded more to a low carb diet, and if she ate as much fiber as I did she got bad cramps. The whole thing was a little depressing. Now we are back to whole foods , unprocessed, organic whatever.

I was talking with the oldest member of our photo society last night. He doesn't eat vegetables at all and never has. He does however eat potatoes and fruit I believe. He was a keen cyclist. He can't do that any more but is still sharp and reasonably fit. His age - 93.

Losing weight is simple, just eat less.

I have been doing extensive experimentation over the last 10 years and have been vegetarian, vegan, classic keto and now modified low carb/keto. The research was to try to cope with an unusual genetic thing that I have. When under a normal American diet, my blood lipids are dangerously high, and after 20 years on statins which reaped marginal results, I decided to really see what might work to get me off the drugs. There is no simple answers and I believe that different things work for different people, but in general here is what has worked for me. I now do modified keto, which means that I don’t get a lot of saturated fat. I still eat lean meat in smallish portions, chicken, oily fish etc, but eat a lot of avocados and oil, olive oil, nuts and nut butters etc. On the nuts, you have to lean strongly to walnuts, pecans pistachios and macadamias and stay away from the legume based nuts, as they are just harder to digest. I get carbs only from vegetables and nuts, and have really reduced any simple carbs. I also have become comfortable with intermittent fasting, and limit my food intake to the hours between 11 am and 7 pm. I am recently now trying to fast until dinner at least 2 days per week. There is ample scientific evidence at this time that the only way to reliable way to enhance longevity is to limit caloric intake. I am not trying to live to be 100, but want to try to improve the quality of life for the time I have left. This latest strategy is working well. My body weight seems to automatically seek to be in the area of 172 which is where I feel best. I also have, over the past 4 years, increased my activity and now cycle about 4-5 hours per week and this is very vigorous mountain and road biking, average heart rate in the 130s. The greatest result of this is that I now have beaten my metabolic syndrome, have reduced my insulin resistance and am now pretty fairly fat adapted, which I think is the result of the modified keto diet. Since I burn fat, I never am at risk to bonk when working out hard, it just seems like I have endless energy. Now if I do something stupid like have birthday cake, I can feel my body kick in to carb metabolism, and I just fast the next day to purge the carbs and go right back to burning fat. Its hard, it takes discipline, but I am much the better for it and can still cycle pretty aggressively. So have your blood tested, see what the problems are and then figure out what combination of food and timing optimizes your results

If there's one thing easily learned from nutritional research is that nobody really knows anything. This particular diet apparently works for you, some people only eat meat, some only eat uncooked vegetables, some only eat X... and they all claim amazing benefits etc. but there is no single best for everyone. When I eat vegetables and fruits of nearly all varieties in any sizeable quantity it turns me into a farting mess at best, you can fill in the worst yourself. What's gluten intolerance equivalent for fruit/veg? The problem is, I really like a lot of fruit and vegetables, I just can't eat more than a little bit without feeling the consequences. I could devour buckets of raspberries for example. Contrary to climate/world/health saving trends, my body apparently responds well to grains, dairy and meat, but not nuts, legumes, berries etc.

So when your feel like posting about your diet again in a few weeks, perhaps consider reporting on what works for you and avoid claims such as: "WFPB is the healthiest way for human beings to eat." None of the diets deserve that title.

Diets are like religion. The one you're on is the one true diet. Everyone else has been taken in by some faddy cult.

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